This one’s near and dear to my heart, and central to my pervasive creative predilection to make everything queer. It’s always struck me as odd that fantasy settings often make wondrous magical phenomenon into everyday occurrences, but that magic rarely changes the shape of the society presented.
In this case, magic that lets people change their body shape is a common fantasy theme, and yet the idea that nobody goes to their local body-altering wizard asking for it to be done to them seems just… ludicrous. Now certainly, transgender folk would be at the front of the line, but so too would be people who have suffered disfiguring trauma. If this sort of magic is available, it will get used. It will even get used for cosmetic purposes. Even if it’s expensive, magic cosmetic surgery is going to be pretty popular.
So in today’s entry, I’ve tried to split the difference between a whole bunch of familiar fantasy tropes regarding body-changing magic while also making those fabulous wizardries into the means for queer expression that every trans fantasy fan has always known they should be.
So without further ado…
There are a number of different ways to approach the task of reshaping a body using magic, but they are all commonly referred to as bodysculpting. These procedures may be temporary or permanent—although the latter is significantly more difficult. These practices can transform any living bodies, including animals, but it is most often practiced on people. Bodysculpting is employed for a host of different reasons, from cosmetic alteration to espionage to gender transition.
A bodysculpt differs from a glamour in that the body is fundamentally changed, whereas a glamour only makes a body appear to have changed. Bodysculpts cannot be dispelled like glamours, and also take significantly more time to accomplish.
Bodysculpting is more art than science, as the bodysculptor is always working with an existing body and soul. Most bodysculptors talk about how those “materials” harbor their own opinions as to what shape they should take. The spellwork is often framed as convincing the body to accept a new shape. This is why bodysculpts performed on people rarely diverge from humanoid configurations: making a body sprout wings or lose hands is a profound violation of the subject’s self-image.
Because the “materials” are almost always resisting the transformation, fine details are notoriously difficult to accomplish with precision. Bodysculpts that can successfully impersonate another person are the province of true masters of the art. Arguably, the only feat more difficult than impersonation is making bodysculpts breed true, as in the case of wyverns.
Bodysculpting generally degrades over time as the transformed person’s self-image reasserts itself. This usually begins with small details slipping—eye color, finger width, hair length—followed by the entire body reverting back to its desired shape. Since self-images are not perfect recollections, however, bodysculpts often degrade into a slightly different appearance than the subject started with. In rare cases, a subject may come to identify with their new form, stalling the bodysculpt’s degradation entirely.
No such degradation occurs when bodysculpting is used for gender transition, in which the bodysculpt attempts to manifest the subject’s internal self-image. The body rarely reverts back to a form that didn’t feel correct in the first place. However, there is often a long period of minor adjustments as the subject’s body and soul settle into their final form.
Bodysculpting is very advanced wizardry and its practioners are highly trained and sought after. Verdas has long been the hotbed of developments in bodysculpting, as many locals chase the beauty standards dictated by the principles of Gajaprassidha. In Outland and Norsteppes, bodysculpting is disdained if not actively persecuted, although this may be more the legacy of Valormaw than an ethical stance regarding the practice itself.
(That last paragraph is pretty link-heavy, innit?)
Alright, so now that we’ve got magic cosmetic surgery under our belt, what’ll we look at next week? The other kind of magic, Glamour? Check out some bodysculpted beasties, Wyverns? Head north to explore the Norsteppes? Or circle back to find out more about Valormaw, the guy who started the Ogrewar?
Thanks for voting, thanks for reading, thanks for supporting me, folks. It really means a lot! 🙂